Salt Lake police planned to meet with prosecutors Wednesday to discuss evidence surrounding the strangulation last week of a Chinese student whose body was found in the Jordan River.
With the help of the SWAT unit, police, armed with a no-knock search warrant, raided a house at 116 S. Ninth West about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and arrested three adults and five juveniles.Reynaldo Garza Casarez, 18, Cynthia Rae Gomez, 18, and Fred Angel Gomez, 18, were booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of criminal homicide in the death of Shi Shing Tam, 23, Sugar House.
Police said Tuesday they believe the motive was robbery. "He was killed for less than $50," said a disgusted detective Lt. Norm Thompson. The lieutenant would not speculate on whether the killing was gang-related. A woman who knows the suspects, however, told the Deseret News that at least one of them is a member of the "Diamond Street Gang."
Detectives received information on Monday about possible suspects in the homicide. "We believed some of the suspects were dangerous," Thompson said, so SWAT was called.
Officers recovered a sawed-off shotgun in the house, which was being rented by Cynthia Gomez. In addition to the three adults who were booked, five juveniles - three boys and two girls - were taken into custody. The youngest person inside the house was 12, Thompson said.
Detectives combed the house for several hours Tuesday. Some blood stains were found in the house and on a sidewalk outside.
Police theorize that Tam went with one of the suspects to the house Wednesday evening to meet a girl. When they arrived, Tam was robbed, beaten about the head and strangled with a cord.
Thompson said the unclothed body - wrapped in a blanket that was tied to the feet and neck - was put in the victim's car and taken to the Jordan River near American Avenue.
Rocks were placed in the blanket and the body was dumped in the river. Apparently, whoever disposed of the body didn't notice that it got no further than a shallow underwater ledge where it could be seen.
The victim's car was recovered Saturday at 1550 N. Ninth West.
Tam, originally of Hong Kong, had been living in Salt Lake City for about six years with his two younger sisters and younger brother. He was working two jobs while studying at the University of Utah.